News & Politics

Strippers OK, Books — No Way!


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

August 3, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 41

What’s Wrong with Books?

By Peter Gessner

“In the event we are convicted and can’t open on Sundays,” an infuriated Villager boomed, “we intend to open with 10 dancing girls and free strip shows – with no cabaret cards. And you can quote me on this.”

The latest irate victims of City Hall pressures were not MacDougal Street cafe-owners but Village bookstore-proprietors voicing their anger at receiving summonses last Sunday. The action forced five stores to close their bookstalls to the public on the Sabbath. They were ordered to appear in court August 9 or 10.

“Strip joints and gin mills are permitted to stay open on Sundays and we can’t,” continued Martin Geisler of the Paperbook Gallery. “Man, that’s sick.” The owners of the Paperbook Gallery, whose three Village branches have established a three-year policy of Sunday business after 1 p.m., have sent off letters to President Kennedy and Governor Rockefeller complaining about the situation.

“This is the city’s latest election-year drive to wipe out culture,” an unnamed bookstore owner complained.

“All I want to know is what I’m violating,” another said. “If they want me to change my religion and go to church on Sundays, why don’t they tell me?” he demanded…

The penal code prohibits all “public traffic” on Sundays, with exceptions for charitable activity and “works of necessity.” “Gin mills and strip joints are allowed to stay open on Sundays because they have restaurant licenses,” one owner pointed out. “But you and I know that those places may sell one or two sandwiches during the whole evening while the girls continue to bump it out.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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